Pop Art started in the middle of the 1950s in Britain and soon spread across the Atlantic to the United States in the late 1950s. It was the idea of several young artists, an idea or movement that presented a new challenge to the traditions of fine art, because of the use of imagery from mass and popular culture.
Pop Art was adopted by a few New York artists like Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg and James Rosenquist. But Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein are the most popular and successful pop artists, who became part of an international phenomenon.
There are many popular pop artists as part of the movement, but in this article I am going to talk about the two major pop artists Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.
Roy Fox Lichtenstein was born on the 27th of October 1923 in New York in a family with German Jewish background. He grew up with his father in the upper west side of Manhattan.
In his childhood, he spent a lot of his time listening to science fiction programs on the radio, drawing, building models of airplanes, and visiting the American Museum of Natural History.
In 1940, he started taking painting classes at the Art Student League and after a few training years, his works were included in the gallery shows.
During the 1960s, along with Andy Warhol and a few other pop artists, he became one of the leading figures in the new pop art movement.
His work defined the premise of pop art with the help of parody. Lichtenstein produced precise compositions and these presentations are documented as parodies, because of his inspiration from comic strips.
According to him, pop art is a ‘Non-American’ painting and actually an industrial painting. His paintings were also exhibited at the New York Leo Castelli Gallery.
Andy Warhol was born on the 6th of August 1928 in Pittsburgh, where he grew up. Later in life he became the highest paid and most successful paid commercial illustrator in New York.
In the late 1950s, his work was exhibited in several galleries and he received recognition as a controversial and influential artist.
Nevertheless, his screen-printed images, sensational newspaper stories and soup cans quickly became synonymous with pop art.
He is still the leading figure in Pop Art as a visual art movement. In his works he explored the relationship between celebrity culture, artistic expression as well as advertising.
He was also the one to introduce serialization in the fine arts with repeated depiction of one and the same image. Famous examples are his silk prints of Marilyn Monroe, Mao Tse Tung and Elvis Presley. Until today, serialization and media are being used in the fine arts to express certain ideas and concepts that hadn’t been part of fine arts before Andy Warhol.
Today, computers are being used as a catalyst or tool to mash up videos, still images and sound. Art works can be reproduced indefinitely with the help of digital printing and technology. However, traditional techniques and media are still part of the process in Pop Art and many artists find more ways to combine these differing worlds into their body of work.